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                                          Book of the Week

Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing

Bibliodiversity is a term invented by Chilean publishers in the 1990s as a way of envisioning a different kind of publishing - unlike megacorp publishing which is all about numbers, about sameness, about following a formula based on the latest megasuccess.

Last week The Age reported:
The book industry has reacted with horror to the Productivity Commission's interim report into intellectual property, which recommends scrapping parallel-import restrictions on books and the adoption of the US system of "fair use" of copyright material. Authors, publishers and some booksellers are aghast at how the literary ecology would be damaged if the recommendations are enacted.

Author Tom Keneally said the surrender of territorial copyright would mean a surrendering of the Australian literary landscape.
I fear it's treating books like toothbrushes, I have nothing against toothbrushes but it's treating books like interchangeable articles.
Publisher and author Susan Hawthorne who has worked in the book industry for more than 30 years and is the author of Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing (2014) agrees the Productivity Commissions interim report on intellectual property has been bad for Australian writers and publishers. And for readers too.
"Importantly, publishers in the colonising countries of the UK and USA get to retain their copyright protection. So why would the government want us to hand over Australia's intellectual property any more than the Kidman land sale rejected by the government last week? Handing over intellectual property rights is banditry", says Hawthorne. "With the demise of PIR we risk what Vandana Shiva calls ‘monocultures of the mind’: a deluge of books published cheaply overseas, with lower royalty rates for authors than is standard in Australia."

In her manifesto, Susan Hawthorne provides a scathing critique of the global publishing industry set against a visionary proposal for organic publishing. She looks at free speech and fair speech, at the environmental costs of mainstream publishing and at the promises and challenges of the move to digital.

Independent publishers are seeking another way. A way of engagement with society and methods that reflect something important about the locale or the niche they inhabit. Independent and small publishers are like rare plants that pop up among the larger growth but add something different, perhaps they feed the soil, bring colour or scent into the world.


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